How to Manage Startup Programs on Ubuntu Linux

How to Manage Startup Programs on Ubuntu Linux

Many applications automatically set themselves to start when you log in to the Linux desktop. You may want to add your own favorite programs to the startup process as well. Here’s how to control what Ubuntu starts when you log in.

We ran this process on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS with the default GNOME desktop. The steps will be similar on other Linux distributions with the GNOME desktop, but you may need to use a different configuration tool in another desktop environment.

How to Launch the GNOME Startup Manager

To launch the startup manager, open the application list by clicking the “Show Applications” button on the dashboard in the lower left corner of your screen. Find and launch the “Startup Applications” tool.


You can also press Alt + F2 to open the Run Command dialog and run the following commands:



If the Startup Tools tool doesn’t appear in your applications menu for some reason, you can open a Terminal window and use the following command to launch it:

sudo apt install gnome-startup-applications


How to Stop Programs From Starting Automatically in Ubuntu

The Startup Applications Preferences window will open. You will see a list of programs that automatically start when you enter your graphical desktop. Each application has a name and, optionally, a description.

To stop a program from starting automatically, uncheck the box to the left of the program. Unchecked programs will not load at startup.

You can also click select a program and click “Remove” to remove it from the list here, but unchecking a program will accomplish the same thing – and allow you to re-enable startup programs more easily in the future, if you want.


If you are not sure what a program is, you can search the web for its name. For example, if you search for im-launch you’ll find that it is a command that launches whatever input method you need.

You can also select a program and click “Edit” to see the full command that runs when you log in.


How to Add Your Own Startup Programs in Ubuntu

For adding a startup program, you’ll want to know the full path. You can find this by which command in the Terminal window.

For example, suppose you want to run Firefox. First, launch a Terminal window and run the following command:

which firefox

You will be notified that the firefox binary is located in / usr / bin / firefox. This is the path that you must enter in the Command field in the Add Startup Program window.


Click the “Add” button in the Startup Application Preferences window and enter the full path to the program you wish to launch in the Command field.

You must also type a name for the program and, optionally, a comment. These two fields will only appear in the Startup Applciations Preferences window.


When done, click “Add”. You will see your custom startup program displayed here. As long as it has a checkbox and appears in this list, the GNOME desktop will launch it every time you log into Ubuntu.


By the way, many applications that launch at startup offer built-in options for changing them. For example, you can stop Dropbox from starting automatically on Linux by using its options window, just as you can on Windows and Mac.

However, the Startup Application Preferences tool lets you see everything that opens automatically and control your desktop from one place.

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